The game differs from the original Super Monkey Ball in terms of gameplay. It is less focused on the traditional floor level and instead has a story mode focused on plot, missions, and actions. There are over 60 characters throughout the 4 worlds, which still holds the record in the Super Monkey Ball series for the most characters.
According to Sega, this game was an attempt to make an adventure game with Super Monkey Ball characters. While the floors and party games are considered decent, whether or not the "adventure" attempt succeeded is debatable (See "Reception" section).
AiAi and friends must travel through four different worlds by completing missions and exploring the area around them to bring happiness back to the kingdoms of Jungle Island, Moonhaven, Zootopia, Monkitropolis, and Kongri-la. Throughout, they also need to complete some traditional Monkey Ball levels to unlock certain areas.
Challenge Mode returns but now has much more difficult levels. The worlds are much simpler and recycle music from previous games, but still follows the traditional Monkey Ball formula. There are three difficulties - Beginner, Advanced and Expert. Advanced must be unlocked by completing Beginner and Expert must be unlocked by completing Advanced. All floors are used from various locations from Story Mode. There is also a fourth difficulty level called Exclusive which is only available in the PSP version of the game.
There are six party games. These include Monkey Race, Monkey Fight, Monkey Target, Monkey Bounce, Monkey Cannon and Monkey Tag. The player can play as several NPCs from Story Mode as well as various difficulty levels by buying them from Paipai in each world.
Future AiAi is available as a playable character only on the PS2 and PSP versions, and must be unlocked on the PS2 version by transferring data from the PSP.
Exclusive to the PSP version, it features an online party game called Monkey Trumps. The player plays with cards collected throughout Story Mode to play various modes with others.
- Main article: Super Monkey Ball Adventure/Stages
- Main article: Super Monkey Ball Adventure/Characters
- This version is the only one to have certain characters grinning or having any expressions in their faces besides smiling in various Story Mode cutscenes and Party Games.
- Bowls and Gravity Wells have a cleaner and better texture compared to the PSP and GameCube versions.
- Instead of skipping winches via loading screen, in this version you must go around the winch 10 times to unlock certain areas in Jungle Island and Zootopia. Moonhaven features elevators and a cannon to get to the Flying Automaton. Monkitropolis features a skytram and Kongri-la features an elevator from the land and tubes in the underground. These all must be traveled manually.
- Future AiAi is likely required to be transferred from PSP data to be unlocked. However, this must be confirmed compared to complete Story Mode 100 percent with each character.
- Cutscenes can be skipped by pressing X.
- MeeMee and Baby's icon in Party Games such as Monkey Fight and Monkey Bounce are replaced with one of GonGon's, once grinning and one in awe. This is not seen in other versions.
- Once Story Mode is completed, the loading screen for Challenge Mode is changed to a white background behind the characters instead of the Zootopia stage.
- This is the only version to feature Monkey Trumps, and, with it, online compatibility. Exclusive is also only found on this version.
- There are much more save slots found than just the available 4 on PS2, and 3 on GameCube.
- The Mysterious Traveler is found in his hidden places in Story Mode, but missing in the other versions to explain the storyline in this game.
- Trump cards can only be found on this version, and some can only be found on certain characters.
- With this being the only console by Nintendo, the GameCube version has all different controls.
- This is the version with the least content. Not only are there expressionless characters like the PSP, Future AiAi is not a playable character nor is The Mysterious Traveler found.
- This is the most common version to speedrun Story Mode on online.
Super Monkey Ball Adventure received mixed reviews by critics due to confusion of mission goals in story mode, the lack of character control (causing a lot of fallouts, especially in Moonhaven), long loading screens, and time-wasting winches and elevators. SMBA obtained a ranking of zero in Rotten Tomatoes' video game section, Nintendo Power gave it a 5.5 out of 10 rating in it, along with other sources, claiming it was the worst game in the Super Monkey Ball series, X-Play gave it a 1 out of 5. However, the game's floors were praised as well as its soundtrack. Many consider the game's challenge mode and party games a saving grace, being quite fun for most,
- This is the second Super Monkey Ball game to be released on multiple platforms, Super Monkey Ball Deluxe (Xbox, PS2) being released a year earlier
- All Party Games can have up to four players.
- This is the only Super Monkey Ball game not to have Bonus Stages.
- The PSP version of the game contains a new difficulty mode (Exclusive Mode) which contains levels only available on the PSP.
- Along with having a speedometer, Super Monkey Ball Adventure also includes an altimeter and a radar.
- This is the last Super Monkey Ball game to have MeeMee wearing a flower on her skirt, Baby’s diaper being a plain pale blue, and GonGon's shirt being red with a yellow "G".
- This is also the last Super Monkey Ball game that the monkey is stopped immediately when the timer reaches zero. Starting in Super Monkey Ball: Banana Blitz, the monkey's momentum is preserved when the timer runs out, so the player can finish the level when the timer runs out.
- The game was not released in Japan.
- Monkey Trumps features five characters that do not appear elsewhere: Can d'Can, Singsing, SaxSAX, Ha'harp and Bang-bang. The last four were likely replaced with a band starring Bran'ran, Sumsum, Flam'lam and Digdig for the royal wedding.
- The Mysterious Traveler and his stories are exclusive to the PSP version.
- Super Monkey Ball Adventure does not copy any stages from any older games, although in its debug mode duplicates can be seen, such as Hollow.
- This is the only Super Monkey Ball game in which Baby runs instead of crawls. This feature was averted in later games Furthermore, this is also the only Super Monkey Ball game where Baby never bounces on his butt.
- While Baby never crawls in the game, his character select profile does show him in a crawling position.
- This is also the first game where the player cannot save replays (with the others being Super Monkey Ball Jr., Super Monkey Ball (iOS) and Super Monkey Ball: Banana Blitz HD).
- This is also the only game that the life counter doesn't have a zero.
- All the stages in Story Mode make up the entire Challenge Mode rosters, excluding PSP's Exclusive mode.
- The radar used while playing on stages features an AiAi icon from Super Monkey Ball 2 for all characters.
- The game features 4 Party Games never seen in the series again. Monkey Bounce, Monkey Cannon, Monkey Tag, and exclusive to the PSP version, Monkey Trumps.
- All Monkey Race levels: X, B, X, B, Y, X, X, Y, B, B, Y, Y
- All Monkey Target levels: B, Y, B, Y, X, X, B, B, Y, Y, Y, Y
- All Monkey Fight levels: Y, B, Y, B, B, B, X, X, B, B, B, B
- All Monkey Bounce Levels: Y, Y, B, B, X, B, X, B, B, Y, X, B
- All Monkey Cannon Levels: B, Y, Y, B, X, B, Y, X, X, B, X, B
- All Monkey Tag Levels: X, B, B, Y, Y, B, Y, Y, B, B, X, X
- All Monkey Race levels: Square, Triangle, Square, Triangle, Circle, Square, Square, Circle, Triangle, Triangle, Circle, Circle
- All Monkey Target levels: Triangle, Circle, Triangle, Circle, Square, Square, Triangle, Triangle, Circle, Circle, Circle, Circle
- All Monkey Fight levels: Circle, Triangle, Circle, Triangle, Triangle, Triangle, Square, Square, Triangle, Triangle, Triangle, Triangle
- All Monkey Bounce Levels: Circle, Circle, Triangle, Triangle, Square, Triangle, Square, Triangle, Triangle, Circle, Square, Triangle
- All Monkey Cannon Levels: Triangle, Circle, Circle, Triangle, Square, Triangle, Square, Square, Square, Triangle, Square, Triangle
- All Monkey Tag Levels: Square, Triangle, Triangle, Circle, Circle, Triangle, Circle, Circle, Triangle, Triangle, Square, Square
- All Trump cards: Square, Triangle, Circle, Square, Triangle, Circle, Square, Triangle, Circle, Square, Triangle, Circle